Page 1 of 3

Mosquito - Tenmile Traverse post mortem

Posted: Sun Jul 25, 2010 10:36 am
by pbakwin
Years ago it struck me that the Mosquito & Tenmile ranges, in the area between Weston Pass and Frisco, are remarkably high for an amazingly long way. In fact, from Weston Peak to Peak 10 is roughly 27 miles along which the ridge crest never dips below 13,000 feet! North of Peak 10 the ridge does drop below 13K, but the peaks remain high, in the high 12,000s all the way to Peak 1. This has to be the longest, highest ridge in the US outside of Alaska. I realize that the Mosquitos extend all the way south to Trout Creek Pass, but the southern part is lower with only 2 peaks over 13K (E & W Buffalo Peaks).

I calculate the whole traverse from Weston Pass to Frisco at 38 miles with very roughly 17,000 feet of ascending and 20,000 feet of descending. I count 34 named peaks, points and significant unnamed summits from Weston Peak to Peak 1 (see below). There are 2 14ers (Sherman & Democrat), 24 13ers and 8 12ers (Peaks 1-8). The 4WD Mosquito Pass Road is the Only road of any kind that crosses this section of the range, and the route is almost entirely trail-less though one can find short sections of old road and a few "use" trails, and there is a trail ascending Sherman from the Sherman - Sheridan saddle.

For years I thought about trying this traverse. There are many issues, including the many technical sections, weather, and access to water. In any event, after a great deal of scouting and planning I finally gave it a go starting at Weston Pass on Friday at 7:45PM. After a lot of experience on sections of the ridge I felt it would be possible to pull off the entire traverse in roughly 24 hours. The evening start was calculated to put me on the first major technical section, between Tweto & Buckskin, right around daybreak. My wife & a friend very kindly agreed to meet me at Sherman, Democrat and Peak 10 to resupply me with food and water.

The bottom line is that I bailed off from Fletcher Mtn at 12:30PM on Saturday. Basically, I underestimated the difficulty of this traverse! I simply wasn't strong enough. Actually, after many years of climbing mountains, running 100 mile ultras, doing 200 mile adventure runs (including the double Hardrock Hundred in 2006), I didn't think the endurance aspect of this project was going to be that big a deal. I was more worried about getting hit by lightning than anything. Well, sometimes our agendas just don't coincide with reality...

Just walking on this kind of terrain is a constant struggle. The footing ranges from generally crappy to shifting talus to long sections of class 3 scrambling. Moving forward is particularly effortful at night because you can't easily see the best line ahead. It takes constant attention, very tiring. When your strength goes you simply can't travel this kind of terrain safely or efficiently. Normally, when a rock you step on moves you just make a correction and continue. When your strength goes you are unable to make the correction so you stumble, struggle and then try to recover, which burns tons more energy. You get weaker. Normally I am very good at route finding and am able to move quickly and efficiently over difficult terrain. But, after walking all night and climbing 21 peaks in 16.5 hours I found myself physically and mentally
fatigued to the point where I was making poor choices, burning even more energy & increasing the objective danger. Faced with the hazardous traverse from Fletcher to Atlantic, followed by another 12 peaks, the clear choice was to pull the plug.

So, I still think this is a great project, a real classic. But, it's going to take a lot of strength and determination to pull it off!

PB
Home Page: http://pbakwin.home.comcast.net" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;
Fastest Known Time: http://fastestknowntime.proboards.com/" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

Image

Re: Mosquito - Tenmile Traverse post mortem

Posted: Sun Jul 25, 2010 10:57 am
by susanjoypaul
Wow - amazing. If it's any consolation, you would have run into some real weather problems soon after you bailed, anyway. I did the short traverse from Peak 8 to Peak 9 yesterday, starting at 9,800', and bailed on the hike over to Peak 10. The sun was completely obliterated by 2 o'clock, and by 4, we were caught in a downpour of rain and hail. Plenty of lightning to go around, too.

Great effort - astounding, really. The terrain - and darkness - can have a profound impact on progress, indeed. Thanks for sharing your story. Maybe with more light - additional climbers and more headlamps - this would be more attainable?

Re: Mosquito - Tenmile Traverse post mortem

Posted: Sun Jul 25, 2010 11:12 am
by cftbq
Absolutely stunning even to try it! I can only hope to do this in sections someday. Unfortunately, Susan is right: the weather just isn't being very cooperative this summer.

Re: Mosquito - Tenmile Traverse post mortem

Posted: Sun Jul 25, 2010 11:44 am
by jbchalk
We did the Tenmile traverse yesterday (Peaks 1-10) and highly recommend it!

Re: Mosquito - Tenmile Traverse post mortem

Posted: Sun Jul 25, 2010 11:55 am
by susanjoypaul
jbchalk wrote:We did the Tenmile traverse yesterday (Peaks 1-10) and highly recommend it!
I *hope* you weren't those guys in the gray Volvo, driving from peak to peak! I got a laugh out of that... although I'm not above driving a bit to take the edge off all that elevation, driving to the highest point possible beneath each summit and hiking a few hundred feet to the top sure seemed, to me, to negate the whole mountaineering experience.

On the other hand, if you did that whole traverse - Peak 1 to Peak 10 - bravo!

Re: Mosquito - Tenmile Traverse post mortem

Posted: Sun Jul 25, 2010 12:09 pm
by jbchalk
susanjoypaul wrote:
jbchalk wrote:We did the Tenmile traverse yesterday (Peaks 1-10) and highly recommend it!
I *hope* you weren't those guys in the gray Volvo, driving from peak to peak! I got a laugh out of that... although I'm not above driving a bit to take the edge off all that elevation, driving to the highest point possible beneath each summit and hiking a few hundred feet to the top sure seemed, to me, to negate the whole mountaineering experience.

On the other hand, if you did that whole traverse - Peak 1 to Peak 10 - bravo!
Oh, lord no we didn't drive peak-peak! that's pretty funny though :) Nah, we left The Mt Royal TH in Frisco at 4:15am and got to our car at Peak 9 restaurant at 1:45pm after climbing our last peak, Peak 10. A great outing for sure!

Re: Mosquito - Tenmile Traverse post mortem

Posted: Sun Jul 25, 2010 12:13 pm
by pbakwin
I picked this weekend for the traverse attempt because I wanted the full moon and I felt that it would be better in July than June when there would be more snow. Obviously, late July is the peak of the monsoon season, and that's exactly the pattern we've been in for quite a while. In retrospect, I think late June (this year) would have been better because of better weather, but also because there would be more ambient water on the ridge itself. During my traverse I found only 1 puddle of water, while a few weeks ago there was quite a bit of water up there. I had great support, and also stashed water for myself on Mosquito Pass, but I still miscalculated a bit and would have run out of water on the section from Democrat to Peak 10 (from which I bailed part way). It was a very warm morning and so I was drinking more than normal. July had an added advantage that it gave me another month of summer to train get acclimated to the altitude. Going after the monsoon would be another option, but of course you're looking at quite a bit less daylight. So, these are the kind of choices one makes.

Re: Mosquito - Tenmile Traverse post mortem

Posted: Sun Jul 25, 2010 12:46 pm
by mtgirl
Chris G. told me you were attempting the traverse yesterday. I was up on Father Dyer/Crystal/Peak 10 yesterday. Left the summit of Peak 10 at around 11:30 AM and could already see storm clouds forming in the direction of Fletcher and was wondering how it was going for you. GREAT effort !

jbchalk....I must have just missed you on Peak 10. What's up with the hand grenade strapped to the top of the "summit pole" up there ??? The Tenmile Traverse looks inviting....

Re: Mosquito - Tenmile Traverse post mortem

Posted: Sun Jul 25, 2010 12:57 pm
by pbakwin
Added my times to the peak list above.

I did Peak 10 - 1 a couple weeks ago. If you're willing to do a little extra walking you can actually complete the loop back to your car by using the free shuttle bus!

Re: Mosquito - Tenmile Traverse post mortem

Posted: Thu Jul 29, 2010 4:29 pm
by SuperPolok
Wow, you made it a long way! I've thought about doing this too but as a multi-day trip as I'm no endurance freak. One question though, why did you decide to start at Weston Pass? When I've looked at it seemed wiser to start in Frisco, though while a much lower start, it would allow you to front-end load the difficult sections (Tenmile to Peak 4, Atlantic-Fletcher, Drift-Wheeler, etc.). Also what did you think of the Drift to Wheeler section of the ridge. I've thought about moseying up there and giving it a whirl someday.

Re: Mosquito - Tenmile Traverse post mortem

Posted: Thu Jul 29, 2010 4:59 pm
by Rich H
Gratz Peter...heck of a job getting to Fletcher.

I drove back to Denver on Saturday from the Apostles and was wondering how you were doing...it looked like it snowed/hailed on Sherman etal - wasn't sure about the northern peaks.

Cheers,
Rich

Re: Mosquito - Tenmile Traverse post mortem

Posted: Thu Jul 29, 2010 5:05 pm
by Jim Davies
My jaw is on the floor. Wow!

Were you planning to stay high on the Fletcher-Atlantic ridge? That's awfully tough all by itself...